Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson, Economic Origins of Democracy and Dictatorship (2006), Chapters 2, 11.

== Summary ==

== Chapter 2: Our Argument ==
* Analysis of the role of various political institutions in shaping polices and social choices, emphasizing how politics differs in democratic and non-democratic regimes
* Society consists of two groups
** Elites – not always the rich – often ethnically determined
** Citizens
* There is thus inherent conflict over social choices and policies
* Institutions do not simply determine the extent of redistribution, but also regulate the future allocation of political power

=== Democracy vs. Non-Democracy ===
* Democracies – generally approximate a situation of ‘‘political equality’’ – generally a regime more beneficial to the majority of the populace (though it is always defined relatively to non-democracies)
** Schumpetearian definition – focused on certain political processes
* Non-Democracies – correspond more to a situation of ‘‘political inequality’’ – generally a regime for the rich and privileged

=== Building Blocks of Our Approach ===
* 1) Economic approach – individuals have clear preferences over outcomes or the consequences of their actions – people often behave strategically and their behaviour should be modeled as a game
* 2) Politics is inherently conflictual – thus, an emphasis on social groups
** ‘‘Political Power’’ is the capacity of a group to obtain its favorite policies against the resistance of other groups
** Distinction b/w de facto and de jure political power
* 3) Social and political arrangements that allocate ‘‘de jure’’ political power are referred to as ‘‘political institutions’’.
** That democracies look after the interests of the majority of citizens more than nondemocracies is simply a consequence, then, of the greater de jure political power of the majority in democracy than in nondemocracy.

=== Toward Our Basic Story ===
* Citizens have a stronger preference for democracy than elites (‘‘not necessarily true though, see Olson’’)
** Citizens are more likely to secure a transition to democracy when they have more de facto political power
* Thus, a basic story: the balance between the political power of elites and citizens determines whether the society transits from democracy to nondemocracy, and vice versa
* Inclusion of political institutions (as they alter future allocation of political power) helps to create a richer story

=== Our Theory of Democratization===
* Institutions are durable
* ‘‘‘Transition to democracy – or any change in political institutions – emerges as a way of regulating the future allocation of political power.’’’
** The citizens demand, and perhaps obtain, democracy so that they can have more political say and power tomorrow.
* De facto political power is ‘‘transitory’’  – citizens may have political power today, but no guaratnee that they will tomorrow.

Under nondemocracies
* Citizens have ‘‘‘‘‘de facto’’’’’ rather than ‘‘‘‘‘de jure’’’’’ political power
* Revolutions -> Transitions if citizens opt to prefer to get things in the future as much as they want to secure them today
* Citizen demand is rarely sufficient, the elite must for some reason extend voting rights
* Elites have incentive not to assuage the citizens, but the threat of revolution requires that they do so – however, promises about future welfare from the elite are not credible
* ‘‘‘A transition to democracy shifts future political power away from the elites to the citizens, thereby creating a ‘‘credible commitment to future pro-majority policies.’’’’’

Basic Theory of Democratization in a Non-Democracy
* Elites have de jure power, and if unconstrained will choose polices that they most prefer
* Sometimes, citizens pose a revolutionary threat, when they temporarily have ‘‘de facto political power’’ (transitory)
* Citizens can use their power to overthrow the system, but only at great cost to all
* Elites want to avoid this situation, so are likely to concede to create credible commitments to future pro-majority policies (democratization)

Most moves toward democracy happen in the face of significant social conflict a possible threat of revolution – Democracy is ‘‘not’’ usually given by the elite because its values have changed.

=== Democratic Consolidation ===
* Need for a theory of coups and /or consolidation
* ‘‘‘Consolidated Democracy’’’: if the set of institutions that characterize it endure through time (a tad minimalist, no?)
* Shifts to non-democracy from democracy are the same as the reverse story – elites have temporary de facto power, and seek to guarantee future policies that favour their interests
* Coups allow the elites to turn their transitory de facto political power into more enduring de jure political power by changing political institutions

=== Determinants of Democracy ===
==== Civil Society====
===== Democratization=====
* Relative importance of a threat of revolution from the citizens
* Some degree of development in civil society is necessary for democratization
===== Consolidation =====
* Civil society also protects democracy, easier to resist coups

==== Shocks and Crises====
===== Democratization=====
* Times of crisis create opportunities for shifts in regime – democratization more likely in the midst of economic or political crisis
===== Consolidation =====
* Coups are also more likely to arise in moments if crisis

==== Sources of Income and Composition of Wealth====
===== Democratization=====
* Landowners have more to fear from democracy (land is easier to tax)
* Social & political turbulence may be more damaging to human and physical capital owners
* Different sets of economic institutions are feasible in a predominantly agricultural society, which influence the relative intensity of preferences
===== Consolidation =====
* Source of income effects whether or not a coup is pursued – more land, more likely (more damage in democracy, easier to tax); more human/physical, coup is more likely to damage capital

==== Political Institutions ====
===== Democratization=====
* If a nondemocatic regime or elite can design or manipulate the institutions of democracy so as to guarantee that radical majoritarian policies will not be adopted, then democracy becomes less threatening to the interests of the elites – and thus they become more willing to democratize.

===== Consolidation =====
* Giving elites too much power will undermine democracy

==== The Role of Inter-Group Inequality====
===== Democratization=====
* High levels of inequality make revolution more attractive for the citizens
* Also discourages democratization, as higher levels of inequality makes democracy more costly for elites, making repression more attractive
* Thus, Kuznet’s curve – non-monotonic relationship between inequality and democratization
===== Consolidation =====
* Greater the distribution away from the elites, the more likely they are to find it in their interest to mount a coup against it
==== The Middle Class ====
===== Democratization=====
* Middle class is the driver of the process – buffer b/w elite and citizen conflict
===== Consolidation =====
* The limit redistribution – large middle class will engage in only limited redistribution

==== Globalization ====
===== Democratization=====
* capital is more easily taken out of a country – more difficult to tax the elites
* globalization does not necessarily lead to democratization (depends on international climate, factor endowments)
===== Consolidation =====
* Ditto
* Coups may be more costly in an integrated world

=== Political Identities and the Nature of Conflict ===
* Identity of the elite is irrelevant

== Chapter 11: Conclusions and the Future of Democracy ==

=== Paths of Political Development Revisited ===
=== Extensions and Areas for Future Research ===
=== The Future of Democracy ===

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *